A refreshed approach for an old favourite
The old favourite Indian restaurant on Hunter Street, Surtaj, may have closed its doors earlier this year, but before long, a refreshed approach with traditional North Indian flavours has come to life in the old favourite venue. Introducing Punjab Pavilion.
The couple, originally from Northern India, has called Australia home since 2013 and have injected their own personality into the iconic eatery, bringing a new flavour to Newcastle’s CBD.
With Jatinder a qualified chef, and Ruby a self-proclaimed people person, when the opportunity arose to have their very own restaurant, it was too good to say no!
“Surtaj had put an ad on Gumtree saying they wanted to sell the business. I have experience in hospitality and Jatinder is a chef, and I had been looking for this type of opportunity,” Ruby shared.
With Surtaj closing its doors on the 2nd of July, it was just a few days later that the venue was reborn under the name Punjab Pavilion and the new owners have been serving both locals and visitors alike their scrumptious traditional North Indian cuisine.
Still sitting behind the unassuming façade which you could walk straight past, head on through the big glass doors and upstairs through the colourfully designed staircase before being welcomed into the restaurant complete with traditional North Indian touches.
The contemporary interiors pay tribute to India’s rich cultural heritage whilst featuring touches of modern and character-filled charms.
With Ruby working front of house and Jatinder cooking up a storm in the kitchen, a dining experience at Punjab Pavilion certainly is a family affair. Looking over the incredibly extensive menu there are dishes you might recognise from Surtaj, but for the most part, Punjab Pavilion has created its own unique offering.
“The taste is different from what Surtaj offered and it’s a really big menu. Whilst we still have dishes like the Lamb Korma, the taste is different. We’ve also added lots of options including vegetarian entrees, meat entrees, mains, and dessert. We also offer some Indo-Chinese dishes too.”
For the picky or indecisive eaters, the Punjab Pavilion menu may be a little overwhelming, but for those who love endless options, you will have a field day! Pages and pages of flavoursome dishes will keep you returning to sample new menu items each and every visit.
To start, we recommend the Papri Chat, a dish I had never tried before and which Ruby explained was more of a snack dish in Northern India. Expect crisped fried dough wafers served in potatoes, chickpeas, chilis, yoghurt, tamarind chutney, mint chutney, and topped with fresh coriander.
For a non-vegetarian starter, the Chicken 65 is a filling and tasty dish to kick-start your dining experience. The fried boneless chicken chunks are cooked in a special masala mix and served crisp – just wait for the sizzle as the team brings it to the table.
Moving into the mains, you can expect plenty of delicious options. Choose from vegetarian, chicken, lamb, beef, or seafood-based mains, or browse the chef’s special menu. As expected, the team also offers a selection of naan, rice, biryani, and side dishes to accompany your mains.
“Our Mughlai Chicken has received great feedback and people are also loving our Lamb Chop Masala. It’s quite crispy and a really good size.”
The fully licensed venue offers a great selection of wine, beer, spirits, cocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages. Our recommendation? The Mango Lassi, is a cool, sweet, and creamy drink made from yoghurt (can be ordered alcoholic or non-alcoholic) – perfect for drinking alongside spicy food.
Don’t forget to sample something from the dessert menu as Punjab Pavilion really shines when it comes to its sweet treats. The Gulab Jamun is an absolute must-try – think fried dough balls paired with their house-made pistachio ice-cream; it's a crowd-pleaser!
Whether you were a fan favourite of the long-time Surtaj and miss dining in their iconic venue, are a big fan of Indian cuisine, or are on the lookout for a new foodie experience, drop into Punjab Pavilion on Hunter St.